We Are All Americans Here: Labels, Identity, and Mexican Immigrants during the Great Depression and Great Recession

Saturday, January 4, 2014: 10:00 AM
Columbia Hall 7 (Washington Hilton)
Michael Innis-Jimenez, University of Alabama
Whether someone uses a label to self-identify or to insult another, most labels imply a

homogeneity that rarely exists. Working-class and darker-skinned Mexican immigrants and

Mexican Americans deal with derogatory labels that question their legal status and/or right to

be in the U.S. The dominant narratives of those who self-identify as "American" and citizens

often celebrate their own ancestors' heritage and family journeys to the United States in some

distant past, while demonizing more contemporary waves of unskilled non-"white" immigrants

that enter the country today. In this paper I will examine labels and self-identification of

Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans who are "first-wave" immigrants during times of

economic hardship. I will focus on the Midwest during the Great Depression and the South

during what is becoming known as the Great Recession of the twenty-first century.

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